On our trip from Kansas to New York, we decided to avoid I-35 and instead took highway 77 north through Kansas. Doing so allowed us to  see more of the country and small towns-after all, interstate roadsides look much the same.

Free Camping in Marysville, KS

As we came into a town called  Marysville, we passed a small park with some tent and RV campers.  We weren’t planning on stopping yet, so we drove on. Then I began to notice well-maintained historic buildings and wanted to take photos.  We decided to circle back to the park and see what the camping fees were.  

A five-day stay limit was posted, but there was no registration station. A quick Google search confirmed that there was no fee for camping. There were a few picnic tables and electric hookups available. Flush toilets, a dump station, and water were available in the park. The little Tumbleweeds enjoyed the playground adjacent to the camping area, and the adults could get in a playground workout.

Wooden playground with towers
The playground is suitable for a wide age range of kids
Man doing pull up on bar at playground
Working on pull-ups at the playground while the kids have fun

The park was quiet overnight with the exception of some train noise and truck traffic on the highway. We didn’t hear a sound from the other campers, even though no quiet hours were posted. Our stay fell on a weeknight; I don’t know if weekends are busier or noisier. The local police station is just up the street and we saw patrols during the evening. The park felt very safe and quiet.

Black Squirrel City

Marysville, KS has quite a few points of interest. There is a population of black squirrels, protected by local law, which give the city the nickname “Black Squirrel City”. It seems they interbreed with other squirrels, resulting in oddities like this red-tailed, black-bodied fellow.

Black squirrel with red tail
Black body, red tail

In celebration of these black squirrels, Marysville has squirrel statues scattered around town, decorated in unique ways by various organizations.  These were fun to find as we explored the town.

Squirrel statue with glasses and library card in pocket. Books are stacked at the feet

Squirrel statue with painted sunflowers


Black statue of squirrel with mosaic tail


The Pony Express Came Through Here!

We also enjoyed seeing a Pony Express station.  This building was a “home station,” originally constructed in 1859 and still standing on the original site. Riders would change horses here. There is a museum, but we arrived too late in the day. We hope to return another time to see it!

Stone building
Pony Express Home Station #1 still stands on its original site in Marysville, KS

Marysville’s Pony Express history is commemorated on this squirrel

Black squirrel statue with pony express painting on side

Library Park

As I walked down the sidewalk taking photos of squirrel statues, I noticed a black gate that read “Library Park.” Tucked into the space between the public library and the adjacent building I found child-height benches and tables, tidy garden beds, and a remarkable mural of book spines taller than I am. What a charming and cozy space for the children of Marysville to curl up with a book or just sit and enjoy fresh air! Though the library was closed for the evening, the gate was not locked; on the contrary, it stood open, inviting me in.

Black iron fence
The fence dividing the park from the busy street featured scenes of children reading and playing

Mural of book spines showing classic titles


We found Marysville, KS to be a convenient place for an overnight stop, with enough things to see and see to spend a day or two exploring. We look forward to our next visit!